Since this is my birthday week (Wed, FEB 6 is my bday), I decided to share what I've learned in the last year since publishing four books as an indie author.
1) Getting READY to be published definitely took a village.
I couldn't be where I am without my husband, who's supporting us
financially, and my critique group partners, who helped whip my books into
shape and whipped me when I got out of line (just kidding) and wanted to quit
the book because I was sick of editing.
The big lesson here was about the psychology of burn-out. Sometimes for
authors, this problem manifests as writer's block, sometimes illness, sometimes
disgust for one's own work. Basically, you lose rational perspective. This is
when friends/family/critique partners are very important in helping you see
more clearly. Listen to them and don't give up!
I burned out hard on An Eye For Danger near the last edit rounds, but my
village pushed me through. Including my readers at Wattpad, who with every
chapter were sending me emails demanding more more more. So don't underestimate
the power of having fans. Whoa, that pulled on my heart strings. I couldn't
give up at that point, because I hadn't the heart to let them down.
TIP: A big helper was that I created my book cover early, so that made the book feel like more than words hidden in a file on my computer. Making your book real, via announcements and fans, makes you work much harder to reach the finish line!
2) Having no marketing budget makes you very resourceful.
Granted, my husband is carrying our bills so I can launch my author career.
But my marketing budget still had to come of my own sales. So there's the
chicken and the egg dilemma. How to make sales so you can advertise to make
My choice was to enter the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program so
I could manipulate exposure of my book via the 5 free days. There are so many
sites that will promo your book if it's free on Kindle, that the free
advertising was indisputably a leg up. My first run scored 12,000 downloads.
Yes, free, but the resulting book reviews by readers and the sales bump for the
next week were both worth the sting to my ego.
In a six-week period I used up my free days (2 days, then another 3-day run
at the end of Oct) and garnered about $1,100 in resulting sales. AND my second
free run was a complete disaster, because Amazon's ranking system failed and I
didn't get picked up by the major announcement sites (Pixel of Ink and eReader
But I'm still proud of all the free blogs and promos I did because I made
new connections and found new authors and learned new lessons. Very worthwhile
to have to forage that hard for exposure!
TIP: Get a blog or web site going via a free tool, like Blogger or Wordpress. But be clear how much time you have to spend on these and what you want to say. I like to give away information and teach, so a short blog is perfect for my personality and time constraints.
3) Staying flexible matters, but the definition may surprise you.
Editing is critical, especially when you're dyslexic. There is no end to the
amount of editing I can do on a book. That's partly my problem: I over edit
material. Worse, I introduce new errors due to my dyslexia. So staying fluid
about updating my book regularly was important. There are still changes I want
to make to the current version, and no one can tell me "no" because I
own the process. And the book improves every time I clear up more issues.
And then there is my husband, who is the voice of reason. My goal should be
to finish writing book 2, not still fidgeting with book 1, he says. Why does
that man have to be right so often?
So... flexibility sometimes means NOT acting on your impulses. Hence, I have
edits waiting till my other goals are met for the month. Since I was out of the
office nearly four whole months due to family issues and personal illness,
let's just say I was VERY behind in reaching goals. Again, staying flexible
according to what's important matters. The health of your loved ones (and
yourself) is more critical than any book!!!
TIP: Get a life coach, editor or a good friend to talk publishing "goals" with you at least once per quarter. I'm easily distracted, so having someone remind me of my life-centered goals kept me on track. Of course, I can't get everything done. But did I get done the things that make me happiest? YES!
4) Starting early with networking and research gives you an
Sure, I had a website and a blog site and Twitter account and Facebook page...all those are important to have BEFORE you go to market. But I also joined several writing and marketing groups via Yahoo Groups before I
entered the game, and thank God for that! I learned so much from folks who were
"several hamburgers ahead of me in this restaurant" so I was able
to anticipate and make decisions more quickly.
An important aspect to networking is discovering which book sites, reviewers
(I wish I'd paid more attention to these sooner!), and bloggers you want to
leverage once your book hits the shelves. Let's just say that when I come out with book 2, I'll definitely put my interview and review requests into the right sites sooner! Like
before the book is published!
Another example of learning from others: I've been reading posts from
authors who've used BookBub, a service that announces books to a mailing list
of dedicated readers. Their experience and sales numbers are impressive. So I
saved up $360 and bought my own spot (comes out Feb 21st), because I put my book, An Eye For Danger (http://amzn.com/B008QPZ8O4), on a $0.99 special for my birthday month. Best part, I could
rationalize this to my husband by pointing to the testimonies of other authors.
TIP: Get on Goodreads early. These readers are tough on books, but if you win them over, you get great reviews and they pass on the word. And set up a promo schedule FAR in advance if you want to use eReader News Today or Pixel of Ink or BookBub services. These are the best, but they are booked! So "last minute" promos don't fly well with them, and having them on your side can mean hundreds of dollars in profits! Not having them can mean a flailing promo, which can discourage your future efforts. Nothing ruins a book career faster than discouragement!
I hope these lessons help you move forward in your own publishing journey,
whether you go indie or traditional! And remember, life is not a vacuum--we
need each other. So pass on what you learn to others :)
The Editor Devil